Fighting Federer survives a dogfight to get past Andreev


New York : Roger Federer had to fight to dodge an approaching bullet as he quelled a rebellion from underdog Russian Igor Andreev 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the US Open quarter-finals.

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The Swiss second seed desperately wants to lift a major title after a season plagued by viral illness and losses in the Paris and Wimbledon finals.

He soon found himself in a battle with the clay ace ranked 23rd and playing just his ninth match in New York.

It took five sets for the 12-time Grand Slam champion to move through, winning his 31st consecutive match at Flushing Meadows Tuesday.

“It was a tough one, I haven’t played him in a long time,” said Federer, 42-4 at the event. “I’m happy with the score.

“Of course you wish for three sets, but those five-setters can be fun also.

“He broke me so easily in the first set, I was struggling to get into the groove. I was just trying to stay in the match.

“It went from day to night and the wind was changing. It was tough but fun conditions.”

Federer has won the last four New York titles. He had to wrap up victory by saving four break points for a 5-2 lead in the fifth.

He nearly split his winners (67) and unforced errors (50) in a contest stretching to three and a half hours.

Third-seeded Djokovic overcame fitness dramas including ankle, hip, stomach and breathing problems to advance in another thriller, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 over Tommy Robredo.

Djokovic, never noted as a towering physical specimen, looked fragile at the end of the nearly four-hour marathon, leaning heavily on the net and breathing hard.

“I didn’t feel well from the moment I stepped on the court,” said the 2007 finalist. “I had less energy in the tank.

“I really tried to forget about that. I had to take a medical timeout a couple of times, go to the bathroom. I wanted to do everything to win.”

Spain’s 15th seed Robredo took the dramatic fourth set into a fifth as he broke Djokovic in the final game after saving three break points a game earlier.

But Djokovic found enough puff in the final stanza to advance on the strength of a break in the fifth game.

“I was not frustrated to go to a fifth set,” said the winner. “He deserved to win the fourth.

“I didn’t know how I was feeling to start the fifth, but I’m happy to get through.”

Luxembourg’s 130th-ranked outsider Gilles Muller stunned two-time semi-finalist Nikolay Davydenko 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (12-10) with the Russian smashing all five of his match racquets in utter frustration.

“I just have trouble with racquet, that’s why I broke them all,” he said after going down to outsider Muller. “I’ve never done that in my career.”

Elena Dementieva stretched her run of Olympic form, with the Russian gold medallist reaching the women’s semi-finals with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Swiss Patty Schnyder.

The fifth seed will test herself in a bid for a second final at Flushing Meadows when she plays the winner from Serb second seed Jelena Jankovic and Austrian Sybille Bammer.

Dementieva, who lost the 2004 final to Svetlana Kuznetsova, spent 76 minutes in defeating Schnyder as the Swiss player struck 29 unforced errors.

Dementieva could take over the WTA number one ranking for the first time with a tournament victory. She has won 16 of her last 18 matches dating to Montreal in early August.

“I’m very excited to be in the semis, but I’m sure I need to improve my game and play a better match if I want to go to the final.”